July 6th, 2011
07:55 AM GMT
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Tokyo (CNN) – A restaurant in Tokyo is crowded with customers, but on the menu isn’t raw fish, but raw meat – chicken, pork, beef and even horse meat.

About half the customers at “Niku Sushi” (Japanese for “raw meat”) are women like Aya Kanazawa, who comes three times a week and proudly calls herself “a carnivore girl.” It’s not just her culinary tastes she’s talking about. In an odd way, the battle between meat and fish parallels the battle of the sexes and Japan’s moribund economy.

Japan's so-called “carnivore girls” are young, aggressive women. They call the shots in love, act independently and – like Kanazawa – are proud of it.

Girls like Kanazawa are in contrast to Japan’s so-called "herbivore boys," the generation of Japanese youths who are less interested in sex. Borne out of 20 years of national economic stagnation, herbivore boys eschew traditional macho notions of masculinity and employment, choosing not to fulfill the salarimen role of their fathers.

For a country with one of the world’s lowest birthrates – and one of the fastest aging populations – the "herbivore boys" embody the nation’s societal fears.

With more attention placed in the Japanese press on “herbivore” men and “carnivore” women, restaurateurs like Niku Sushi’s Hiroaki Toda sensed a marketing opportunity to make the buzzword literal – appealing directly to “carnivore girls.”

It has certainly been a good business move. “We’re riding off the buzz of the carnivore girls,” Toda said. Indeed, as more women come to his restaurant, business is thriving. The restaurant expanded to four locations and is looking to franchise.

Trendy or not, is eating raw meat safe? Niku Sushi has been open eight months without a single reported case of food poisoning, and Japan boasts some of the highest food safety standards in the world. Despite this positive track record, four people died at a different chain restaurant two months ago after eating spoiled raw beef. Now, that restaurant sticks to raw horse meat, chicken and pork.

Safe or not, as long as there are “herbivore boys,” it looks as though the “carnivore girls” are here to stay.

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Filed under: Business

soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. VampireJack

    Wonder how long before the tapeworms start showing up.......

    July 6, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  2. Odessa

    Girls got to be tough in Japan in order to fight the male perverts who suddenly try to stab you or touch you. Deep uncontrollable perversion in the midst of quiet politeness.

    July 6, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  3. Odessa

    I'm so glad they don't eat dogs and cats.

    July 6, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  4. Zuby

    Please whats the difference between raw and cooked beef? is raw meat more nutritious or what?

    July 6, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  5. Charl


    July 6, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  6. zoundsman

    Blood dripping in its freshness is making me hungry. Wha? Aww,,, not full moon tonight ... gotta ride this one out.

    July 6, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  7. John

    Japanese have been eating raw meat for years, including whale meat. Since 'carnivore girls' are statistically insignificant in society, I am wondering why this minor story gets exposure. Wow... four restaurants and a national trend. Must be a slow news day.

    July 6, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  8. Turner, South Korea

    The taste is very different for raw beef. I was hesitant to eat raw chicken over in Japan, but it was really delicious.

    July 6, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  9. wietze

    why is this sad?? raw meat is the oldest way of eating.. i eat it all the time

    July 6, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  10. saggy

    I strongly hope this will not leads to day-light sucking of 'blood'

    July 6, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  11. Henry

    Is really sad to hear this kind of urgly news about flesh eating human beings. This is not normal and is satanic. Check it, believe it or not these girls has conection with the anticrist and they are vampires in the making.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  12. Scott

    It makes you laugh at how over sensitive we in the west are about food hygiene and having a sterile environment. Our immune systems are weakened by our bubble environment.

    The first time I saw someone eat raw chicken was on wife swap USA but they were weird people.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  13. Luc

    Wait wait... Did they write ABOUT half(meaning less then...) are women and then went on to brag about how carnivore they are and about the how herbivore man(who make up MORE then half the clients!) are?

    Can I get my 3 minutes from reading this back please?

    July 6, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  14. Singapore

    Just when you thought Japanese people couldn't get any MORE disgusting...

    July 6, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  15. Babo

    To Luc: About half the people who eat at this establishment are women. That doesn't mean that the rest are herbivore men. The other clients could be older citizens who aren't part of that generation.

    Furthermore, "about half" doesn't say either way that more or less than half are women, just that it's a close margin. Never does the article say that all women who are patrons to this restaurant are or identify themselves as "carnivore girls."

    July 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  16. Jarno

    Raw chicken and raw pork? Even with the strictest hygiene policies, I wouldn't be comfortable eating either.

    For raw pork, you've got the risk of trichinosis, which is a parasite that infects your muscles. Once it's there, there's nothing you can do about it. It may take a long time before you feel any symptoms. If you're lucky (depending on your immune system, and the species of trichinosis), you might even not exhibit symptoms at all – if you're unlucky, it might be fatal. Or it might give you muscle pain and weakness for the rest of your life.

    I'll have my pork cooked, thank you very much!

    July 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  17. HappyStuffing

    The saddest part about these comments is the cultural intolerance for the Japanese.

    When I read things like " Just when you thought Japanese people couldn't get any MORE disgusting..." or "I'm so glad they don't eat dogs and cats."

    Everything said about Japan in these regards can be said about us. Allow me to retort with something of the same nature North America. "Eew, you all eat COOKED meat? Fried in grease? Served in the form of a chicken nugget or a processed hotdog? How unpure and disguesting"

    July 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  18. Kerry

    We have beef tartar so niku sushi doesn't surprise me in the least. However, regarding the comment made by Vampire Jack wondering "how long before the tapeworms start showing up," I think he should ask the question why is it that our slaughtering methods in the USA today are so poor that we cannot obtain raw meat and particularly poultry that isn't contaminated by Salmonella? I've eaten raw chicken sashimi in Japan including raw liver and gizzards and never had a problem. It cannot be the chickens are genetically different. The only explanation is higher slaughtering and inspection standards than the USDA is capable of regulating on our agri-businesses. Customer satisfaction and food safety trump corporate profits and greed!!! How novel a notion is that?

    July 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  19. Bluesteak

    I guess these girls are building antibodies to toxoplasmosis before they get pregnant...

    July 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  20. Jack Crowe

    Odessa, you must be white, right?
    In Japan, they eat frogs, the whole sea bed if they let them and yes in some provinces they do eat cats and dogs although not allowed.
    So this story here takes the edge of hating Japanese for you I guess?

    July 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  21. jack

    Another home run article by Kyung Lah. Brilliant investigative journalism.

    July 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  22. Sree

    Reminds me of African Wild Pack Hunt. Biology calls us homo sapiens though.

    July 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  23. eclock

    odessa, you are a typical troll

    July 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  24. anaguma1ban

    'Niku sushi' does not mean 'raw meat' – it means 'meat sushi'.

    July 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  25. Odessa

    There must be some scientific studies to convince Asians not to eat weird stuff...

    July 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  26. Etian

    Nothing new or unusual–Ever heard of carpaccio or steak tartare?

    July 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  27. Who Cares

    this is exciting.. does she eat snakes? i'd like to know

    July 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  28. Jafa

    Gautam Buddha was a "herbivore" by choice, so the records show. But he was a bhikshu, who only ate food given as alms. One day while begging for food, somebody put raw pork into his begging bowl. He was told by his fellow bhikshus that the pork given to him was rotten and he shouldn't eat it. Buddha is reported to have said that it was his dhamma (duty) to eat food offered as alms, but what food should be offered to a bhikshu was part of the dhamma of the giver of alm. And he ate the rotten pork, and died of food poisoning. Thus died Gautam the Buddha.

    July 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  29. Ace in Thailand

    raw is the healthiest way to eat or maybe with just a sear. Proteins are very delicate and sensitive to heat damage.

    If you prefer mangled and damaged proteins then enjoy that.

    July 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  30. That'snotTrue:[

    ........................Where do CNN get this nonsense, the girls eating raw meat, true.....but herbivore boys? Why should they be called canivore girls.....since before human beings discovered fire, everything eaten was raw, and Japanese food have a lot of raw fish.
    In the end, food is food, the French eat snails and frogs, the English eats horse, the Japanese eat whales.....and various part of Asia eat dog, so why always condem the Asian countries???

    July 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  31. Justin

    This article is terrible and filled with stupid generalizations. This journalists appears to have never actually spoken with actual Japanese people at any length. And these bizarre, really bigoted comments are enough to make me puke.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  32. PJ

    Tiger women; carnivore girls- WHEN can I go to Japan! They're CALLING me! Take me, I'm YOURS!!!!

    July 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  33. cg

    'Niku sushi' does not mean 'raw meat' in Japanese. Please disregard the comments of any reporter that cannot even be bothered to crack open a dictionary before attempting to 'inform'.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  34. cometlinear


    Are these women just desperate for attention?

    July 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  35. mark

    This is Pathetic. These carnie women are hoping to gain a 'leg up" on the more passive veggie males...? I think another natural disaster is upon us.....

    July 7, 2011 at 4:05 am |
  36. Robert

    Eating raw meat, some says, is good in treating cancer. Though no scientific evidence yet, there are people claiming that they were cured of cancer by eating raw pork meat. In addition, isn't it that our ancestors during the olden times used to eat raw meat when they have not yet discovered fire? That's may be their secret in their long lives.

    July 7, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  37. Yuckypoo

    Imagine the horse-breath after the meaty meal.

    July 7, 2011 at 7:33 am |
  38. Joey

    Yet in America, Sushi costs 100% the cost in Japan, and marketed as something that is "Premium" with added High Fructose Corn Syrup and preservatives. It's as annoying as sunflower kernels with preservatives and powder. Why don't you just put the damn sunflower seeds in a jar? Why add the extra crap?

    July 7, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  39. Joey

    LOL@ThatsNotTrue. If you don't believe it, don't watch the news. That was the stupidest comment I've seen since "Nobody watches CNN" on MediaBistro. Are you serious? That's not true? Do you live in Japan? Do you have proof CNN makes up random stories that don't exist and stage people in resturaunts to say that they are carnivore girls? Moron.

    July 7, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  40. chinua

    Japanese youths should try and engage their time in something meaningful and productive rather than this national embarrasement.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  41. Mogdaork

    Carnivore girls are great! Not weak, and not really demanding they are good partners for strong men. Plus a girl who eats raw meat is sexy...course I eat it raw meat alot too...but a nice lookin girl with blood drippin down her mouth and hungry is amazing

    July 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  42. SB

    Joey, actually sushi costs about the same in Japan as it does here. I looked up the prices at conveyor belt restaurants and they are virtually identical; about $1 – $4 or ¥100 – ¥350 per plate. I regular a little family owned sushi place in Bellevue near Seattle that does an all-you-can eat sushi dinner for less than $30. That's likely as cheap as anything you're going to find in Japan.

    July 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  43. DavidInAustin

    Raw and nearly-raw meat is traditional in Japan. I have not been there for over a decade, but when I lived there, I often had chicken sashimi (tori sashi) and horse sashimi (basashi). The chicken is seared on the surface, left fully uncooked in the middle, and with ume and shiso, is fantastically delicious.

    Of course, raw beef is a traditional Western dish as well, and I also find Steak Tartare and Carpaccio to be delicious.

    There may be a trend toward raw meat nowadays in Japan, but the dishes are well-established elements of mainstream cuisine.

    For commenter chinua, for example, to refer to this trend as a 'national embarrassment' is just an example of a lack of education and knowledge about the world.

    July 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  44. Bill

    This is news now? Pathetic excuse for journalism. American hamburgers are much weirder and completely disgusting.

    July 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  45. That'snotTrue:[

    @Joey, why are you accusing me of something that I did not say, shows how ignorant you are.....did you even read my comment? And yes, I've seen this in other news stations to, but it's a very small percent of the Japanese population to begin with....and in the other news station, there was no herbivore boys................still don't know how CNN got this, why don't they just say vegetarians.

    July 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  46. Susie

    Niku sushi doesn't mean "raw meat". It just means "meat sushi".

    July 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  47. mcp123

    "Is really sad to hear this kind of urgly news about flesh eating human beings. This is not normal and is satanic. Check it, believe it or not these girls has conection with the anticrist and they are vampires in the making"

    Amazing how many nutjobs like you there are out there. Satan is a myth... so are vampires...and the anti-Christ.

    July 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  48. Chairman Meow

    I love sushi, especially pan fried.

    How can anyone eat raw dead fish? And pay what they charge on top of it?

    Wouldn't you get a better deal at a bait shoppe?

    July 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  49. Sparky

    Phenomenal bredkaown of the topic, you should write for me too!

    July 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  50. timmy

    Grow up with the cats and dogs comment.

    July 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  51. Rei

    I've been eating sushi as early as childhood (4+), or once I became capable of eating solid foods. Throughout my lifetime I rarely became ill from raw seafood or developed any symptoms of food poisoning. Most fish/meat are expected to be properly slaughtered/inspected before everything is sold and shipped to restaurants (or exported elsewhere) before they spoil. Even if these steps are followed, it true that some people can become sick but its not common for anyone to become sick from raw foods unless it was improperly inspected or prepared by the chef. Though in most cases if the meat is fresh, it can't cause much problems to the person who's consuming it. There's nothing satanic or disgusting about eating sushi unless its over a week old and/or improperly prepared by the chef.

    July 17, 2011 at 7:22 am |
  52. Maguro

    Does anyone else find it weird that the reporter doesn't think fish meat is, well, meat? Meat is meat, no matter what animal it comes from.

    July 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  53. Walkens crisps

    That'snot true The English don't eat horse meat That's not true

    August 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
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  62. Agha Ata (USA)

    My grand father ate lion's meat. But my gramma liked leopards and elephants only. She thought lion meat had an undesirable flavor. Leopards smell wonderful. They both, ate mules for appitizers, and made pickles of tiger's heart and kidney. And you know what? I was just kidding. lol

    November 2, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  63. Diamond Monaco

    "I'm a carnivore girl"...

    Wrong. You're a blooming moron that makes me sick to my stomach.
    You're allowed the freedom to eat what you want and I'm allowed the freedom to say this:

    You are undatable and disgusting. It truly breaks my heart how a country that ranks 3rd in education- IN FRONT of America- is so clueless about nutrition and compassion for animal life. You're semi-smart, but gullible fools who have been duped by satanists that run a shadow food industry. The way they see it: If you're that stupid to poison yourselves, you probably deserve to die and sometimes I can see where they are coming from.

    December 2, 2012 at 11:10 am |
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  65. Parikeltias (Part angel spirit)

    ~Diamond I agree with you, we shouldn't be consuming the life out of creatures. I have a different take though, since we also have teeth that are carnivorous by nature (ripping apart teeth) We're omnivores. We wouldn't be able to survive the frigid winters, if it weren't for being omnivores. The only way to survive, since there were hardly any plants around, would have been to hunt. Fur for warmth, bones for tools, and the rest would be as food. In plants, you get all your vitamins and minerals. In meat though, you get certain nutrients that you can't get any other way.

    For me, I think it's wrong to kill for fun, but only intentionally out of survival. Also if those "carnivore girls" indulge themselves on so much meat, that's wrong and should be a crime. Stick with one source of meat, not added ingredients especially sodium, and keep it separate while respecting it and praying. Eat all plants raw, especially meat. It also depends on the body though too, so I'm sure b/c of your intuition and instinct you're the type that would be affected negatively by meat.

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